Not even Tamra Judge’s plastic surgeon Dr. Milind K. Ambe knew that she would reveal on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen last week that she had just had had a lower facelift just 15 days before. But The Real Housewives of Orange County pal didn’t hold anything back, telling Andy: “This is my 10-year anniversary of being on the show. I'm taking it back to Season 3."
Tamra was equally forthright in an Instagram post describing the procedure along with photos taken right afterwards. “I'm open and honest about it because I want women to know that everyone gets old even people on TV and there is nothing wrong with growing old gracefully if that's what you want...... It's just not for me! I like to keep it real!” she wrote, along with an email for fans who wanted to ask her questions.
The emails poured in. “I have 300 emails from people asking me questions,” Tamra told The Lookbook this week. “People want to know about recovery, they want to know about incisions, they want to know about cost. Most of them are like, I want your doctor's name and phone number." Both Tamra (who's worked to have her best body ever at age 50) and Dr. Ambe answered a few of ;The Lookbook's questions about what it's like to get a lower facelift.
1. What is a lower facelift and how is it different from a normal facelift?
It’s a facelift that doesn’t involve a brow lift, according to Dr. Ambe. “I don't do that many brow lifts. For me, I think brows if they are lifted can look unnatural pretty quickly,” he says. “The most common procedure that I do in my practice is a lower face and neck lift like Tamra had and an upper and lower eyelid.”
2. What made Tamra want to get one?
“It's just something I had been thinking about for so long,” Tamra tells The Lookbook. “I'm turning 50, I had reduced [my body fat] and ever since then I felt like, every time I smiled or make a face, you could just really see it in my lower face and my neck. And I just hated it.”
She was in Dr. Ambe’s office — the two go way back, she turned to him for a breast revision and he even did her mom’s facelift — ;and a nurse told her about the lower facelift and necklift. She booked an appointment within days but she was still nervous about it.
“It was a couple days before surgery, and I was like, ‘Am I doing the right thing? I'm totally scared,’” she said. “And then me and Shannon had done a Facebook Live and her daughter had taken a picture of us doing it. I was in mid-sentence, and I'm like, 'Ohh I need it. I totally need it.' I just went through with it.”
2. Why didn’t Tamra want to get fillers instead of a facelift?
"I’m not a big fan of fillers. I've tried them before, and I feel like girls are starting to look distorted. I'm like, I don't want to do that,” Tamra says. “I'm sure some people have them done and they help, they look great. But for me, because my face is so small, I just look like a Cabbage Patch Kid. ;I tried them in my laugh line, my lips. I looked like a blowfish. I think everyone's looking at it like a phase, going 'What were we thinking?’”
Dr. Ambe believes that when patients use more and more fillers to try to achieve the same results as a facelift, that’s when distortion can happen. ;“There can be certain things that fillers can help with in terms of increasing volume in certain areas of the face and maybe giving some fullness to the lips or fullness in the folds that are right above the lips, between the lips and the cheeks,” says Dr. Ambe. “But at the end of the day, as patients continue to age, there's nothing that's going to take away excess or loose skin and put it back where it belongs unless it's a facelift and necklift.”
3. What’s the procedure like?
Tamra and her husband Eddie gave Dr. Ambe a hard deadline when she booked her facelift. “Eddie said this to me, ‘She is going to be on national TV in literally two weeks and a day after this surgery. We have to make sure that she looks ok,” he says. “And I promised him that that was going to happen.”
Sure enough, Tamra tells Lookbook the healing process for this major surgery has been surprisingly quick. “The next morning, I went into Dr. Ambe's office, he took the drains out and the bandages off. I was just shocked because I expected to be this black and blue swollen unrecognizable [person] and I didn't look that way.”
She says the most painful part was soreness in her throat from her breathing tube. Aside from that, she had some soreness in her ears near the incision and itchiness around her stitches for the eye tuck. “Day 3 is when the swelling set in. That was probably my most uncomfortable day. By Day 7, I could've put makeup on and gone out,” Tamra says, explaining that right now she feels great. "The tips of my ear are a little bit numb and I still have swelling in my jawline. I swear it's going down every single day."
Another tough part was staying still during her recovery period. “I was leaving for New York literally like 15 days after the procedure. He said, 'I don't want you doing anything. I just want you to not risk getting a hematoma. Other than getting up and walking every so often, I had to wear an Ace bandage around the chin and the top of my head,” she said. “He called it the snooty princess look. I had to hold my chin up and just lay on the couch. That's what I did. It drove me crazy, because I'm so active. It was really hard.”
4. What was most surprising about the procedure?
Tamra says the fact that she didn’t have bruises immediately after surprised her most, and she’s been so happy with the procedure and the results. “I think for the most part, people — me included — are so afraid. When you hear the word facelift, you think you're going to come out looking like some super fake, stretched plastic person. It clearly isn't the case,” she says.
“I was asking my daughter: 'If I hadn't have told you I had it done, would you notice? And she's like, no. No, not at all.’ I mean, she is 11 though,” she joked.
For Dr. Ambe, Tamra’s facelift is what he specializes in every day. “I think Tamra's result represent a very typical result. Obviously she is beautiful and I think that made my result even look that much better but definitely I have a reputation for getting more of the natural type of result," he says.
But her decision to be totally honest and reveal the procedure 15 days afterwards on live TV is something new. “She had the courage to disclose it, and then at the same time, she looked like a million bucks,” he says. “What I think it represents that one can get a natural result. The biggest deterrent for someone coming into my office is if they've seen so many unnatural results walking around out there. They're fearful in the procedure. But I think if the procedure is done in the right way, in a skillful way, in a natural way, it's spectacular procedure. You can literally turn the clock back about 12 to 15 years and the patient looks like they don't have anything done.
5. What should facelift patients look for in choosing a plastic surgeon?
Dr. Ambe’s traffic on his RealSelf profile right after Watch What Happens Live was 10 times higher than usual, but women have been traveling from out of states to Dr. Ambe for years. If you can’t get to his office in Newport Beach, here’s Dr. Ambe's advice on what to do when you’re choosing a plastic surgeon:
“Typically when anyone who see results that don't look normal, they usually are seeing something that looks pulled, stretched or tight, or distorted around the corners of the eyes or the corner of the mouth on either side," he says. "I love telling patients when they're looking at before and afters is to cover up the befores and just look at the surgeon's afters."
"What they want to look at in the afters is if the face look natural and there's no distortion, nothing that looks strange around the eyes or around the corners of the mouth. In every case, they should be able to say yes, that face looks normal and natural. Then I have them unveil the befores and they can see that the patients look 15 to 20 years younger in the afters, but when they were looking at the afters while covering up the befores, the faces look totally normal.” ;
Bravo’s Style & Living is your window to the fabulous lifestyles of Bravolebrities. Be the first to know about all the best fashion and beauty looks, the breathtaking homes Bravo stars live in, everything they’re eating and drinking, and so much more. Sign up to become a Bravo Insider and get exclusive extras.